Kombucha. Have you tried it? Do you buy it, bottle by bottle at the coop or grocery store? Kombucha it turns out is easy and satisfying to make.
I hadn't heard of kombucha until a few years ago when I discovered it at the coop. Not normally a purchased/bottled drink person I was inexplicably drawn to it. I did a bit of research becuase I was curious about what it was and why I wanted to try it so much.
Turns out kombucha is an ancient live fermented beverage with a long list of health benefits. The more I read the more I realized that it is as easy to make at home as, say, yogurt. Maybe easier. All you need is to find a friend who already makes their own who can share their "SCOBY" with you (symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast) - the mother that turns black tea and sugar into a health tonic. (The SCOBY is the big rubbery disc in the photos below.) I happen to live in the sort of community where loads of people make their own everything, so I had several offers in the first day I asked around. If you are the odd-duck in your community you can find them via Craigslist or Freecycle or you could even purchase one on-line.
We started making our own and have only purchased a few bottles at the store since. We love our homemade kombucha. It is extremely affordable and make a naturally carbonated, mildly acidic drink. Here is how we make ours:
4 TB loose leaf organic black tea
1 C organic sugar
4 quarts water
A large stainless steel (or other non-reactive, non-plastic) bowl or pot large enough to hold water above
Cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel large enough to drape over bowl
1. Fill tea kettle with fresh water and bring to a boil.
2. Measure out organic black tea and sugar into cooking pot.
3. Pour boiling water over tea and sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar and steep until cool.
4. Strain into your large steel bowl or pot. Compost tea leaves.
5. Add enough fresh, cool water to make a total 4 quarts (including your sugar/tea mixture).
6. Add your SCOBY and the kombucha it is soaking in to your sugar/tea/water mixture.
7. Make an x over the top of the pot with tape and drape cloth over the pot to keep out critters.
8. Check your kombucha every day. Stir with a wooden spoon underneath the floating SCOBY and taste. After about a week the sweetness will have faded and a mildly vinegar-edged flavor will begin to come through. When you taste this, your kombucha is ready to bottle. (Note: if you let it go too long and you taste strong vinegar you've gone too far. But you just made vinegar, which is good too. Use as you would apple cider vinegar and start over on your drinking kombucha.)
9. Remove your SCOBY. It will be the size of the opening of your bowl and two layers thick. You can now peel the two layers apart and share one with a friend. Every batch of kombucha results in the growth of a second "mother". If you don't have any takers then thank it for its work and add to your compost. Put the SCOBY you are keeping for your next batch into a jar and cover with your fresh kombucha. Cap and refrigerate.
10. Bottle your kombucha. You can use any lidded glass bottles or jars. We use to keep store bought kombucha bottles around to reuse for this purpose, but now I prefer to bottle into a few narrow mouth canning jars instead. You can bottle just the kombucha or top off with juice (our preference). I add approximately 5/6 kombucha and 1/6 fresh or bottled unsweetened juice.
11. Cap and refrigerate. Leave for a few days and the kombucha will carbonate itself using the sweetness from the juice as its "fuel".
12. Enjoy! Server kombucha cold. If the flavor is too strong for you, dilute with 1/2 water or carbonated water, or dilute with 1/4 juice, 1/4 water and 1/2 kombucha. When you open your last bottle it's time to make a fresh batch.
I am drinking the glass above right now. And it's really, truly, amazingly good.